Classes of Collaborative Networks

Classes of Collaborative Networks

Luis Camarinha-Matos (New University of Lisbon, Portugal) and Hamideh Afsarmanesh (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-770-6.ch021


A collaborative network (CN) is an alliance constituted by a variety of entities (e.g., organizations and people) that are largely autonomous, geographically distributed, and heterogeneous in terms of their operating environment, culture, social capital, and goals but that collaborate to better achieve common or compatible goals, and whose interactions are supported by computer network. Some authors see the roots of this paradigm in early works of economists like Oliver Williamson in the 1970s. Along his vast work, Williamson established the study of transaction cost economics (Williamson, 1975) and defended that manufacturing firms should make much greater use of externally purchased goods and services, rather than those internally supplied. These ideas had a more evident impact with the booming of the “outsourcing” wave in the 1980s. Outsourcing became very attractive when managers had to reduce the organization overheads and eliminate the internal inefficient services, the so called lean organization, as it transfers the problem to the outside, namely to other efficient service providers. In this line of developments, the idea of virtual enterprise/virtual organization was not “invented” by a single researcher but rather it is a concept that has matured through a long evolution process. Some of the early references first introducing the terms like virtual company, virtual enterprise, or virtual corporation go back to the early 1990s, including the work of Jan Hopland, Nagel and Dove, and Davidow and Malone (Davidow & Malone, 1992; Introna, More, & Cushman, 1999; Walton & Whicker, 1996). Since then, a large but disjoint body of literature has been produced mainly in two communities: the information and communications technology (ICT) community and the management community.

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